Aaron BoydBy Aaron Boyd, Senior Editor, Nextgov
Democrats on the House Appropriations Committee released their draft of the 2022 Financial Services and General Government funding bill Wednesday, including funding for major IT projects and another US$50 million for the Technology Modernization Fund.
The funding bill—which covers the Treasury Department, the Judiciary, Office of Management and Budget, General Services Administration, Office of Personnel Management, Small Business Administration and other independent agencies—includes about US$29.1 billion, US$4.8 billion more than approved for fiscal 2021.
The TMF received US$1 billion in the second COVID-19 stimulus package, a significant boost to the central fund managed by OMB and established as part of the 2017 Modernizing Government Technology Act. The fund was originally created to be self-sustaining, with awardees paying back the loans over three- or five-year terms. With the latest influx of cash, Congress and the Biden administration are preparing to approve projects with limited or no payback requirements, particularly those focused on pandemic response and cybersecurity.
The Biden administration requested another US$500 million in the president’s budget proposal, though House Democrats—lawmakers who in the past have shown the most interest in adding funding to the TMF—are only proposing a tenth of that: US$50 million.
That number is still twice what legislators have approved in previous years, rarely even suggesting adding more than US$25 million at a time.
OMB would also get more than US$10.4 million for the Information Technology Oversight and Reform account, a discretionary fund the agency director can use “for the furtherance of integrated, efficient, secure, and effective uses of information technology in the federal government,” the legislation states.
The bill includes IT modernization funding for other departments as well, including US$34 million for upgrading various Treasury systems and for implementing programs within the Office of Cybersecurity and Critical Infrastructure Protection.
The bill would also put US$132 million into the department’s Cybersecurity Enhancement Account “to address the impacts of the SolarWinds attack and minimize the impact of future attacks,” the committee said in a summary. That account was authorized for just US$18 million in 2021.
Under that section, the IRS would get US$305 million for ongoing work on the Business System Modernization plan, which includes upgrading legacy systems and improving IRS websites.
“I am particularly proud of strong funding increases to rebuild the Internal Revenue Service, helping the agency process Child Tax Credit payments, provide better customer service, and crack down on big corporations and the wealthy who aren’t paying their fair share in taxes,” Appropriations Committee Chair Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., said Wednesday speaking broadly about the committee’s proposal.
The General Services Administration would get some dollars for IT upgrades, including US$20 million added to a working capital fund explicitly for “work related to human resources information technology modernization, including costs associated with facilitating the development and finalization of human capital data standards.”
The agency would also get US$59.2 million added to the Federal Citizen Services Fund “in support of interagency projects that enable the federal government to enhance its ability to conduct activities electronically, through the development and implementation of innovative uses of information technology.” That fund supports GSA programmes like Technology Transformation Services—including 18F, the Presidential Innovation Fellows, Centers of Excellence and Login.gov, among others—as well as the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program, or FedRAMP.
Appropriators proposed establishing an IT working capital fund for the Office of Personnel Management, another modernization funding mechanism created by the MGT Act. Under the proposed funding bill, OPM would be allowed to transfer up to 3 per cent of funding into that account, to be used by the end of fiscal 2025.
The bill reauthorizes a similar working capital fund previously established for the Small Business Administration, also allowing up to 3 per cent of discretionary funding to be transferred to the account.
The bill will be considered Thursday by the full Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee.